How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Poll: Latinos prefer original DREAM Act, but are split on 'DREAM-light'

Source: Latino Decisions


The polling firm Latino Decisions has been tracking Latino voter attitudes in the run-up to the 2012 election for some time now, and the latest temperature check deals with what's referred to as "DREAM-light," a yet-to-be-introduced alternative to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that is being floated by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

The poll also checks the temperature on Latino voters' support for President Obama vs. GOP nominee-apparent Mitt Romney, although there's no surprise there: As several other recent polls have indicated, Latino voters continue to favor Obama, even in spite of Obama's recent statement in support of same-sex marriage and some Latinos' social conservatism.

But the Dream Act part is interesting, if not altogether surprising either. An overwhelming majority of the Latinos polled said they supported the most recent version of the original Dream Act, which proposes granting conditional legal status to undocumented college students and military hopefuls who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, with a path to citizenship. The forthcoming version being discussed by Rubio would also offer these young people temporary legal status, but without a clear path to citizenship, a aspect that's faced substantial criticism.

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The 10th anniversary of the Dream Act

Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Dream Act supporters outside L.A. City Hall, June 2009

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the original Dream Act. The first Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced August 1, 2001 by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, with a bipartisan group of cosponsors.

The bill's timing could not have been worse. In a little more than a month, the political landscape surrounding immigration would change drastically, obliterating any chance of passage. But after years of reintroductions, amendments and changing sponsors, the proposal to grant conditional legal status to young undocumented people brought here as minors continues to make its way around Congress, making it a noteworthy anniversary.

Here is a summary of the bill, then known as S.1291, as it was introduced:

Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act or DREAM Act - - Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the provision prohibiting an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on State residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such State residence.

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to direct the Attorney General to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, certain (inadmissible or deportable) alien higher education students under the age of 21 with qualifying years of U.S. residency.

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2011 version of the Dream Act to get its first Senate hearing

Photo by CSU Stanislaus Photo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new and slightly revised version of the federal Dream Act will get its first Senate hearing tomorrow morning, more than a month after Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and other top Senate Democrats announced plans to bring it back.

The new Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act differs only slightly from the one approved by the House last December, which moved to the Senate but failed to draw enough votes for cloture.

Like prior versions, the bill would grant conditional legal status to qualifying young people who are in the United States illegally but were brought here as minors under 16, so long as they attend college or join the military. There are only a few key differences from last year's version:



  • The age cap for applicants, which was reduced to age 29 last year, has been bumped back up to 35 years of age or younger

  • The length of conditional legal status before applicants may obtain permanent legal resident status has been reduced to six years, as in an earlier version, from 10 years

  • This version would, as did an earlier version (but not the House-approved one), seek to repeal a ban on in-state tuition rates for beneficiaries


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Why a Pulitzer winner is coming out as undocumented

Photo by PoliticalActivityLaw.com/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Revealing one's undocumented status as a political act has so far been embraced mostly by college students, young people eager to put a face on those who would benefit from proposed legislation known as the Dream Act. Now, that face has become a little older, a little more familiar.

In a piece published today in the New York Times Magazine, former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas reveals the secret that has haunted him throughout his career: He is undocumented.

Vargas, who shared a Pulitzer Prize three years ago for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre, was brought here illegally by a smuggler from the Philippines when he was 12 years old, at his mother's behest. He writes:

We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

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Digging into the new Dream Act

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


The latest version of the federal Dream Act that Senate Democrats plan to introduce is, at least for now, fairly similar to the version approved by the House last December.

As have its predecessors, the most recent Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would grant conditional legal status to qualifying young people who are in the United States illegally but were brought here as minors under 16, provided they attend college or join the military.

The eligibility requirements for applicants, if the bill were to become law, remain much the same, However, there are a few key differences:



  • The age cap for applicants, which was reduced to age 29 last year, has been bumped back up to 35 years of age or younger

  • The length of conditional legal status before applicants may obtain permanent legal resident status has been reduced to six years, as in an earlier version, from 10 years

  • This version would, as did an earlier version (but not the House-approved one), seek to repeal a ban on in-state tuition rates for beneficiaries


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